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Illustrated Ode to Frog and Toad: Q + A with Lauren Gregg

When you have an exhibition on a beloved children's book characters like Frog and Toad, an online search reveals plenty of nostalgic tributes. But this image caught our eye and led us to Lauren Gregg, an illustrator based in Athens, Georgia. We asked her what inspired this adorable update to the classic duo.

Lauren Gregg, Frog & Toad, 5 in. x 7 in., cel vinyl on illustration board.
Why did you choose to commemorate Frog and Toad with this illustration?

This illustration was actually a painting for my friend and fellow illustrator Meg Hunt! She curated an art show for her wedding (best idea ever), and had over 50 illustrators make tiny paintings about love for her and her husband. At the time I was revisiting books from my childhood, and when I got to this part in Frog and Toad Are Friends, I started crying like a little baby:

“I am happy. I am very happy. This morning when I woke up I felt good because the sun was shining. I felt good because I was a frog. And I felt good because I have you for a friend. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to think about how fine everything is.” 

It's the most perfect example of love and friendship I think I've ever read, and I immediately picked up my paintbrush and got to it.

How did you relate to books as a kid, and how did they influence you becoming an illustrator?

I loved books as a kid, like most kids growing up in the early 80s. The book fair at school was the best day of the year. Also you could read books and get free pizza from Pizza Hut through their "Book-It" program, so basically books were the best. In second grade I told my teacher I wanted to take over for Jim Davis [the creator of Garfield] when he gets too old. That same year I wrote a story called "The Little Dog Floppy" and my dad helped me bind it and turn it into an actual book! I always wanted to be an illustrator, from the second I found out it was a job I could have. My path was pretty simple. I was always real serious about art class (math class not so much), and went to the Ringling School of Art and Design and majored in Illustration. I graduated and realized that yes, drawing is pretty much the only thing I know how to do, so I just stuck with it. And with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (mostly tears and not so much blood), I've been able to make a living from it!

Did you read Frog and Toad growing up? What was your impression of the stories?

I did, but it certainly didn't hit me the way it has as an adult. I liked it because it was kinda old time-y and cute that these little forest animals wore jaunty little outfits and rode bikes and stuff. Now when I read it my heart just swells. Maybe it's because I've experienced friendships like these, and Lobel [Arnold Lobel, author and illustrator of Frog and Toad] just nails it.

You work with one of your best friends through a professional partnership called "Kangaroo Alliance." How did your friendship translate to a working relationship, and how do you compare collaboration to working alone?

Craig Sheldon (best friend and animator supreme) and I met our freshman year of college, and we just became the best of friends right off the bat. Our years of adventures together and inside jokes upon inside jokes finally led to us saying "let's combine our powers and make a cool thing!" We made little animations that were maybe only funny to us, and then eventually we ended up getting an animation rep, and got to do REALLY cool things like animations for Yo Gabba Gabba, and even TV commercials for homeless pets and stuff! Collaborating with Craig is the best. We get where each other is coming from, and his skill in animation is just so on point. Working alone can be lonely! It's nice to be able to do whatever you want whenever you want, but I'll still always get Craig's opinion on whatever I'm working on if I'm solo. Good friends are just the best!


About the Artist
Lauren Gregg is an illustrator who has lived in a couple places. She makes paintings by herself and animations with her best friend (called Kangaroo Alliance). She has made things for clients such as Nickelodeon, Disney Television, and Yo Gabba Gabba. Her paintings have hung in galleries in various cities across the United States of America since 2003. She can be found either taking a nap, petting a dog, eating a pizza, or looking at things!

1 comment:

Elizheva said...

I love that Lauren Gregg and I used the same quote to epitomize the beauty of friendship in F&T!
I didn't cry when I first read it, but reading Lauren's interview makes me a little teary eyed. Alas... friendship!